Everyone’s a Critic
by Geoff Kelly - posted 6:21 pm, January 28, 2009
On Tuesday the Common Council lit into Mayor Byron Brown’s recently issued “Snow Removal Improvement Plan,” which was drafted in response to complaints that the city fell on its face during the snowstorm that hit the weekend before Christmas. A one-page summary of the plan, available on the city’s Web site, offers 10 proposals. These include using GPS devices to track the deployment of plowing crews, creating a “Snow Fighting Command Center,” enhancing “training for new and current employees,” and establishing “mandatory post-storm reports.”
Absent among these is a proposal to hire more plow drivers and field more plows, and a majority of councilmembers on Tuesday seemed to be of the opinion that lack of manpower and machinery on the streets was the principal cause of the city’s shortcomings in the last two months.
Even the North District’s Joe Golombek, who is usually more willing than most councilmembers to cut the mayor slack, said manpower was at least part of the problem, something the mayor denied. “Either it was manpower or incompetence, and I highly doubt it was incompetence,” Golombek said, according to the Buffalo News.
The mayor’s plan does call for the Public Works Department to contract with private plowing companies, and to contract with private towing companies to remove illegally parked cars that prevent plows from clearing narrow residential streets. The plan also calls for the paving over of vacant, city-owned lots, which could then be used for parking. That would mean fewer cars parked in the street and clearer sailing for city plows.
That proposal has drawn some support and also some quick criticism. What about the expense of paving those lots? Aren’t we trying to move away from creating more surface parking lots in this city? Doesn’t this city have enough trouble with stormwater runoff in the sewer system?
One need only look at the example of Allentown to see how community parking lots work out for neighborhoods with insufficient off-street parking. The city-owned lots beside Nietzsche’s and the Old Pink are less than well maintained, and primarily serve the businesses they abut—which is great, but does not help clear the road for city plows in the wee hours of the morning.
And the city-owned lots at the end of Wadsworth and at the corner of College and Allen? Well, they’re not city-owned anymore. The city sold them for peanuts to a developer and to a convenience store owner, respectively. So they’re not exactly alleviating the parking crunch either, except for those who can afford to pay for a spot. Who’s to say all the new city-owned lots proposed in the mayor’s snow removal plan won’t get sold to private parking lot operators down the road?
Upon reading of the plan, one Allentown resident responded by email, “Good planning never goes out of fashion.”